The Drow are among the most mysterious of the Elves, in large part due to the change of their curse from worshipping Lolth and being mostly found in the Underdark, far from the forests and open ground that most groups of Elves are associated with whether in the Material Plane or the Fey Wild. This difference is at the core of the Drow High Magic feat and how it works in 5E D&D.
The overwhelming majority of the Drow are evil, focused on mastery and domination, and having no problem using corruption, manipulation, and politics to interfere in cities or kingdoms and see their goal pushed forward whether it’s a dark alliance or the collapse of that kingdom to weaken a potential foe.
Drow High Magic is a powerful 5E racial feat for Drow spellcasters that gives them access to three spells: detect magic, which can always be cast without using a spell slot. And levitate & dispel magic, each of which can be cast once per long rest for free, and then remain as known spells. These spells do not take up “learned” spell slots for any class, they are in addition to the class-allowed spell limit.
This feat certainly fits in with the magical nature of the Drow and these spells aren’t anything to brush off, unlike some of the other weaker 5E feats for magic casters.
Breaking Down the 5E Drow High Magic Racial Feat
Diving deep into their own people, understanding more of the magical force that distinctly sets the Drow apart from other Elves, the High Magic racial feat from Xanathar’s further infuses Drow characters with powerful magical abilities even above and beyond what the average Drow’s experience.
Let’s take a look at the Drow High Magic feat’s exact wording from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Directly from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything:
Prerequisite: Elf (Drow)
You learn more of the magic typical of dark elves. You learn the detect magic spell and can cast it at will, without expending a spell slot. You also learn levitate and dispel magic, each of which you can cast once without expending a spell slot. You regain the ability to cast those two spells in this way when you finish a long rest. Charisma is our spellcasting ability for all three spells.
p.74, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Let’s break down these individual benefits one by one in more detail.
Benefit #1: Learn to cast detect magic, which can be done at will without using a spell slot.
This is incredibly powerful. Not only do you basically get a 1st-level spell you can abuse like a cantrip, but detect magic isn’t just for seeing if loot is magical or not. This can detect magical traps, magical items on individuals, or more. Nothing like sensing magical items on a hidden group in the room you’re walking into to know an ambush is coming, or to direct the general direction of an effective fireball.
This also means someone in your party with limited spell slots won’t have to use it on detect magic, which is a must-have first level spell for many parties.
Benefit #2: Learn levitate and get to cast that spell once for free without using a spell slot.
Levitate can be a very powerful spell. Help aid your stealth, avoid giving away your location to creatures with tremor sense, or move over traps that are set via pressure plate or false floors. This is a very good utility spell that although isn’t quite as good as fly, it does good work at a low-level and adds that much more trickiness to what your character can do. Not to mention the fact that very few feats give away a 2nd-level spell.
Benefit #3: Learn dispel magic and get to cast that spell once for free without using a spell slot.
Dispel magic is a powerful spell that is frequently used in campaigns and no experienced magic user needs to be told how effective this particular spell can be.
How Good Is Drow High Magic?
Drow High Magic is an excellent feat and is one of the racial feats that fully holds up even with the added feats from Tasha’s or the growing versatility of ability choices from hybrid feats. This feat delivers not one, not two, but THREE quality spells that see frequent use in most campaigns.
Add in the fact that this turns one common utility spell and basically makes it a cantrip, that becomes incredibly powerful. Detect Magic, Levitate, and Dispel Magic are all powerful spells, and having a feat that gives a Level 1 spell and turns it into a Cantrip, a Level 2 spell that gives one free cast, and a Level 3 spell that gives one free cast is incredibly powerful.
Especially if you are a class that has a limited number of spells you can learn, since these spells are in addition to daily casting limits or prepared spells that would otherwise limit you.
This is one of the best 5E feats in Xanathar’s and although there tend to be very few Drow characters running around in the world of most campaigns, Drow High magic should be near the top of the list for any caster or partial caster.
- Extremely powerful selection of low-level spells for a feat
- Doesn’t count against total spells known or prepare
- Detect magic with at-will casting is fantastic
- Sort of leaves Drow Fighters, Barbarians, or more pure melee characters out in the cold
Who Should Take Drow High Magic?
- Any Drow spellcaster
- Drow rogues should consider this feat
Drow are an interesting race to play, and if you are doing an evil campaign, or simply have an unusual Drow who has crossed to the side of good like Drizzt Do’Urden, the natural innate magical advantages they have makes them a potentially powerful and unique build whether going a conventional class build or something unique.
Drow High Magic is an outstanding feat that should be taken not only by full casters like Drow bards (interesting choice), wizards, sorcerers, clerics, or warlocks, but also partial casters like Drow rangers or paladins. Getting additional powerful spells that add into what Drow are known for having and casting makes this feat great for flavor and mechanics both.
If you’re playing a Drow caster, you should take the High Magic feat and even if you’re not, it’s worth considering. Even a rogue could find some uses for detecting magic, levitating off questionable floors, or dispelling a problematic trap or defenses
Final Thoughts for 5E Drow High Magic
Many racial feats don’t hold up or are good for flavor but not much mechanical, but when it comes to Drow High Magic this 5E feat is one that not only holds up but is an extremely powerful feat the envy of multiple magic casters who do not happen to be Drow in race. This is an extremely useful feat that super charges the magical abilities, utility, and casting that Drow adventurers can use so effectively.
A well-designed feat, this is one that should be fan favorite for those rare times when a Drow adventurer ends up welcomed to the party.
Drow High Magic Feat FAQ
Can you cast levitate and dispel magic using spell slots with Drow High Magic?
Yes. Since the feat specifically says that you learn the spells, they are part of your spellcasting ability. As long as you are a spellcasting class that has the appropriate spell slots, you can cast them after the free casts using existing spell slots, which is 2nd level for levitate and 3rd level for dispel magic.
Can non-Drow elves learn the High Magic feat?
No. Drow High Magic is a racial feat that is ONLY available to the Drow sub-species of elves. This understanding of their nature to unlock the magical abilities is assumed to be tied to their specific curse and worship of the goddess Lolth.
Do the spells learned from the Drow High Magic list count against your learned spell limits?
No. Like most feats that include learning a spell, the three spells learned from the Drow High Magic feat don’t count against the total number of spells learned or prepared depending on your class. These are always available and don’t restrict the rest of your spell list.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.